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Lyman, which is located in the central part of the state was
created from Unorganized Territory in 1873. The county seat is Kennebec.
The population of Lyman County, in 1990, was 3638.
Lyman County at a glance
See updated US Census Bureau
North: Hughes County
Northeast: Hyde County; Buffalo County
Southeast: Brule County; Charles Mix County; Gregory County
South: Tripp County
Southwest: Mellette County
West: Jones County
Northwest: Stanley County
Lewis and Clark camped here
in 1804 and 1806
The Lewis and Clark Expedition camped near Oacoma in
1804 on their way to the Pacific Coast and again in 1806 on their return trip to
Louis, Mo. According to Lewis’ journals, they liked the area so much, they named
it Camp Pleasant. They spent three days here the first
time they went through. The "Corvus Creek" area is where the present-day golf
course is northwest of Oacoma. The Oacoma-Chamberlain
area is preparing for the Bi-centennial celebration.
Opened for homesteading in
The Lyman County area was created in 1873, and opened
up for homesteading in 1890. It surveyed during 1891-1892, then organized in
The county was named after Major W.P. Lyman, first homesteader at Yankton. The
first county seat was at Oacoma until voters won the
battle to move it to Kennebec in 1922 (to accommodate those who lived in the
west end of the county.) The county, at that time, was 25 miles
wide and 90 miles long (east to west); from the Missouri River on the east to
just west of present-day Okaton (now in Jones County since the
county was divided in 1917,) bounded by Trip, Gregory and Mellette counties on
the south and Stanley County on the north.
The first school in Lyman County was held on a steamboat owned by Capt. H.J.
King, which was anchored near a town site named Lyman on
the west bank of the river northeast of Oacoma. The little town site moved to
Oacoma in 1905 after the railroad crossed the river. One of
the county’s most colorful events occurred when the Lower Brule Indian Agency
(established 1868, SW of present-day Oacoma) was moved in
1889-’90, 20 miles north and the caravan of Indians and their wagons paraded
through the town on the way to their new reservation.
After the railroad crossed the river Lyman County was opened up to a wave of
homesteaders from the east, seeking free land. The first churches
in the county were the Episcopal church near Fort Hale in 1879, and the Lutheran
church in Presho in 1890. First white person born in the county
was Harry Lien of Presho. Wilmer L. Greene was the first postmaster (at the
Lower Brule Post Office.) The population in 1894 was 804; in 1910
(at its peak) 10,848. By 1981, it was 3,900. In 1996, the population was 3,849.
Our military post, Fort Hale, and its Buffalo Soldiers
The Fort Hale Military Post of "Buffalo Soldiers" (black regiment) was
established in 1872, 20 miles up-river (NE of Oacoma) to protect the
settlers who were invading Indian territory. The fort was named after General
Hale of Civil War fame. The fort was evacuated in 1883
once the hostilities were settled.
There are 2.3 people per square mile in Lyman County.
LAND MASS: Lyman County covers an area of 1,
640 square miles and ranks 14th in size among all counties in South Dakota. The
county accounts for .52 percent of the state’s population.
LAND RENTAL: An acre of pasture land in
South Dakota , as Jan. 1, 1997, averages $12 compared to the statewide average
of $16.21. Cropland rental average was $24.50 in the county; $33.29 statewide,
HOUSEHOLDS: Records from the 1990 census
show there were 940 families and 1,268 households in the county with 2.87
persons per household. There were 1,523 housing units of which 1,268 were
occupied...930 by the owners and 338 by renters. The median value of owner
occupied units was $30,200. Median contract rent was $135. Today, $350-500. The
county had 279 mobile homes. (I was the census taker for the eastern
half of Lyman County in 1990. Since that time, Oacoma has seen a population boom
with average lots now selling in the 10 - $15,000 range; houses selling from
70,000 - $100,000 and mobile homes moving into Oacoma cannot be over five years
old at the time they move into the city limits.)
FARMS: The number of farms in Lyman County
dropped 3.7 percent from 437 farms in 1987 to 421 farms in 1992. Average farm
size, 2,055 acres
in 1987; 2,011 acres in 1992. Average age of operator, 51.2, and the estimated
value of land and buildings per farm averaged $536,593. Land in farm acres,
897,966; harvested crop land acres, 235,965; full-owner farms, 156 or 35.70
percent. Farms with sales less than $10,000, 75; farms with sales over $40,000,
249, and farms with sales over $100,000, 104.
INCOME: Lyman County ranked 30th in
per-capita income of $9,724; 16th in median household income on $21,993; 24th in
median family income
of $25,800, and 21st with a non-family median household income of $11,419.